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Geo. D. Whitcomb Company locomotives album and catalogs
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Geo. D. Whitcomb Company locomotives album and catalogs

Accession 2018.230

Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807

Finding aid prepared by Laurie Sather, 2018.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2018-10-22T08:14-0400

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, Geo. D. Whitcomb Company locomotives album and catalogs (Accession 2018.230), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807


Descriptive Summary

Title: Geo. D. Whitcomb Company locomotives album and catalogs
Dates: 1917-1940s
Accession Number: 2018.230
Creator: Geo D. Whitcomb Company.
Extent: 1 linear feet
Physical Description: 1 album : black, embossed ; 8.5 x 11 in. (closed) containing 69 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. on linen backing. 3 booklets. 1 photocopy of a booklet. 3 blueprints.
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department
Abstract: asdfas

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.


Historical Note

The Geo D. Whitcomb Company was a manufacturer of coal mining machinery and industrial locomotives. The company was founded in 1878 in Chicago, Illinois by George Dexter Whitcomb (1834-1914). George Whitcomb's son, William Card Whitcomb (1868-?) received a degree in engineering from the University of Southern California. In 1900, William Whitcomb became Vice President of the company and hired engineer William Frederick Eckert (1862-1923) to help develop the company's first gasoline-powered locomotive. The locomotive was placed into service in April of 1906 with a large Central Illinois coal mine. The Whitcomb locomotives became popular for their reliability, durability, and adaptable sizes for a variety of mining and industrial uses. By 1907, the company had moved their manufacturing facility to Rochelle, Illinois, George Whitcomb retired, and William Card Whitcomb became President. For a short period of time, in addition to mining equipment the company manufactured knitting machinery. During World War I, manufacturing was primary devoted to goverment projects, manufacturing locomotives to carry supplies to soilders.

In 1928, Geo. D. Whicomb Company formed a partnership with Baldwin Locomotive Works to recapitalize the company. Baldwin purchased stock, but Whitcomb and his partner retained a majority. During the Great Depression, the Geo. D. Whitcomb Company suffered financially and declared bankruptcy in 1931. Baldwin Locomotive Works bought the assets of the Geo. D. Whitcomb Company and created the Whitcomb Locomotive Company as a subsidary. William Card Whitcomb filed a lawsuit in 1934 against Baldwin Locomotive Works in an effort to recover his financial losses, but the cased was dismissed.

The Whitcomb Locomotives were produced by Baldwin through World War II. In 1952, production was shifted to Baldwin's Eddystone Works in Pennsylvania. The brand name came to an end in March 1956 when the last locomotive was turned off the Baldwin line under the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation name.


Scope and Content

The album is a factory salesman sample photograph album for the gasoline powered Whitcomb mining and switching engines. The company pioneered the use of gasoline, diesel, and electric powered small mine locomotives to replace mules and men as motive powers for hauling ore cars out of mines. These photographs include images of 2.5-ton, 4-ton, 5-ton, 8-ton, 15-ton, and 17-ton locomotives being manufactured, the factory, as well as in operation at steel plants, stamping plants, road building, a 25-ton for the Panama Canal, mining companies, at diamond mines, Wisconsin lumber companies, and more.

The images have captions on the back of the photographs, though most are undated.

These photos begin with an image of a flag raising at the Whitcomb factory on Memorial Day, 1918, followed by images of their 2 1/2 ton-speed locomotives with enclosed cabs, open cabs, followed by images of the open cab with side panels removed, and then in operation near Picher Oklahoma. The photos which follow depict the 4-ton 3-speed mining locomotive, 4-ton shipped to Bolivia, a 4-ton mining locomotive at the Smokeless Coal Co. mine in Johnstown, PA; 5-ton 3-speed at Carpenter Steel Co. in Reading, PA, followed by several 5-ton friction drive locomotives, one in operation at the same Steel Co. There are also photos showing a 2 1/2 ton hauling a steam shovel for Bath Portland Cement Co. in PA, 15-ton standard gauge Switcher locomotives at the plant, as well as the Michigan Stamping Co., and the Casparis Stone Co. Passenger tourist locomotives are shown; a DO machine operated by the Cleveland Mining Co. in Hazel Green, WI, as well as Class "E", "G", "F", and others in operation in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, along with a 5-ton locomotive in operation for the Issaquah Superior Coal Co. in Issaquah, WA.

Catalogs description: There are two Whitcomb catalogs and an original offprint from the 1932 Railway Age. The first catalog shows the Whitcomb 80-ton Oil- Electric Switching Locomotive with Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Ry badging, while the 1932 offprint details the features of the 60-ton Gas-Electric Locomotive tested on the Burlington Ry. The final catalog is devoted entirely to the full line-up of Switching Locomotives.

Blueprints description: Most of the Whitcomb Locomotives were powered by Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Co. engines, who were famed for their 4- and 6- cylinder engines for heavy construction equipment and locomotives, as well as early automobile companies including Stutz, Kissel Motor Cars, and Case. 1) Power and Torque Curves for type "M" - 5 3/4 x 7 - 4 cylinder motor, Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2) Horsepower and Torque Curves for Model 2C 3 1/8 x 4 1/2 - 4 cylinder engine, 1917 December 15, Le Roi Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin 3) Horsepower and Torque Curves for type "RAU" motor - 4 3/4 x 6 - 4 cylinder motor, Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Access Points

Coal-mining machinery.
Jordan Antiquarian Books.

Series Descriptions and Inventory

1 Whitcomb Locomotives album, 1917-1920s; 1 album : black, embossed ; 8.5 x 11 in. (closed) containing 69 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. on linen backing.
Box Folder
1 1 Geo. D. Whitcomb Company catalogs, circa 1920s; 2 booklets.
Box Folder
1 2 Whitcomb Locomotive Company catalog, 1932; 1 booklet.
Box Folder
1 3 Whitcomb Industrial Locomotives articles, circa 1930s-1940s; 1 photocopy reproduction, booklet.
Box Folder
1 4 Horsepower and torque curves charts, circa 1917 [Includes: type "M" - 5 3/4 x 7 - 4 cylinder motor, Model 2C 3 1/8 x 4 1/2 - 4 cylinder engine, and type "RAU" motor - 4 3/4 x 6 - 4 cylinder motor.] ; 3 blueprints.